Kit Harington took a break from promoting the final season of Game of Thrones to host SNL. The ‘King of the North’ was almost unrecognizable on Saturday Night Live without his trademark beard and hair. Harington overall did a good job as a host. He somehow blended into many of the sketches and, in some, you forget that he was just a special guest. This episode will have you laughing, but at times it was fairly uneven. Some of the sketches felt played out, which is surprising in an episode that had no reoccurring sketches in it. While some concepts flopped, several absurdist ideas won the night. This episode is, in a word, wacky. Laughspin is here to help you navigate Saturday night’s wackiness.
SNL Cold Open
The cold open is all about Jason Sudeikis’s Joe Biden impression. It makes the whole sketch work. He delivers a larger-than-life performance which at the same time feels perfectly accurate and grounded. The topic of the recent Biden scandal could have been a real minefield to cover, but this sketch handles it well and doesn’t punch down.
Kit Harington Monologue
In the monologue, Harington took questions from the audience. It’s nothing new, but it works so well. He starts by telling a few jokes and while he, unfortunately, bails on one, he has good comic timing on the others. The bulk of the monologue goes to taking questions from members of the Game of Thrones cast. This type of bit happens often on the show, but works well with a mega-hit like Game of Thrones because you can tell the studio audience loves it and so will the fans.
Nephew Pageant is just pure absurdist fun. Aidy Bryant really sells this sketch as the host of a pageant to crown the best nephew. This sketch could have really gone in some gross and uncomfortable directions, but it doesn’t. It keeps itself firmly zany without going too far. All the performances in this sketch are really good, but you will be thinking about Bryant as this character for some time to come.
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This sketch is very hard to enjoy if you aren’t a Game of Thrones fan. The jokes are very specific, but fans will enjoy the attention to detail. This sketch is made up of several very quick segments. Some work better than others, but they go so fast that the audience doesn’t have time to get bored or to judge the jokes. Highlights are the Daria and SVU parodies. This won’t feel like four Andy Sandbergs if you’re not a GoT fan, but if you’re not watching the greatest show on television, maybe you don’t deserve this sketch.
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The concept of this sketch is good, but something doesn’t quite work. Part of the issue is that it feels long. There is only one joke and while constantly coming back to it works at times, getting to the same punchline over and over starts to feel monotonous. The concept is very fun. It just can’t carry the whole sketch on its own.
This sketch might not teach you about British politics. Having sympathy for Theresa May might be a bad thing politically, but this sketch is just so fun and weird. The use of musical guest Sara Bareilles and her song She Used To Be Mine from Waitress is simply perfect. Kate McKinnon always really commits to her impressions and it is so necessary for a sketch like this. Even when she breaks the characterization to do her hilarious interpretive dance, the impression still works.
This sketch has a good twist to it, but unfortunately, they squander that twist without building it out at all. The sketch relies mostly on gross-out humor, which can be funny. However, it feels juvenile in this sketch. There is something funny about the idea of a doctor with long nails, it is not funny enough to carry other parts of the sketch which take up a good amount of time.
While the majority of this week’s Weekend Update was fairly average, it was elevated by Alex Moffat’s new character Terry Fink, a film reviewer who only watches films on LSD. The character steals the segment and is laugh out loud funny. While the character hinges on saying nonsense, it is very well written and, in parts, there are layers upon layers of jokes. It is impossible not to laugh along with this character who may start making Weekend Update a more consistent part of the show.
There is nothing outright wrong with this sketch. It just isn’t that funny. The structure works and it seems like an SNL sketch you would have seen before, but the jokes just aren’t there. It is good to see a host getting to play a wacky character and not a straight man, but Harington has already shown he can do characters earlier in the night. Things seem to just happen in this sketch, but it isn’t absurd enough especially in an episode with some far out there sketches.
Often when there is an attractive male host, there will be a sketch where he takes his clothes off. It’s just what happens. These sketches sometimes feel like a flimsy excuse for a host to show off. They did this most recently with fellow Game of Thrones star Jason Momoa. While one of SNL’s best sketches of all time has a strip scene, it is not as easy to pull off these sketches as you’d think. While this one is fun at times, it feels long. McKinnon’s brief appearance in this sketch is amazing, but it is too short to save this sketch.